Now that the decades-long iron grip of Saddam Hussein's tyranny has been lifted from the throats of Iraqi muslims, they are free to practice their religion to the fullest extent of their faith. The result: the Iraqi people currently suffer under the iron grip of an even older dictatorship: fundamentalist islam.
Stories like the following are enough to make one weep from frustration. All that blood spilled, all those lives lost.. for this??
It's as if a surgeon operated without his glasses on, and as a result, became satisfied in only cutting off one of a patient's two gangrenous limbs, pronouncing the patient cured, even as the effects of that gangrene continue before his very eyes... if only the doctor had sufficient vision to see the full scope of the job before him.
The myopia of multi-culturalism and the censorship of political correctness have much to answer for, in Iraq, as the butcher's bill keeps growing more costly... and the solution harder to diagnose.
The pro-suffering/anti-war "peace" protestors whom we protest against, claim that the US is "occupying" Iraq. Oh how I wish that were literally true, for then it would be far less likely that we would allow stories such as the following to occur, where we learn that, of all things, reading the wrong newspaper in Baghdad can now get you killed:
... [Mohammed Shakir] used to offer a selection [of newspapers] from all of Iraq's political movements and parties - but no more. In his majority Sunni neighborhood that has proved simply too dangerous. Two months ago a group of masked men showed up at his stall and ordered Shakir to stop selling papers printed by Shiite groups or government officials, saying that he would be killed if he did not comply.
"They even threatened people who buy these papers in the neighborhood," said Shakir, who took the threat seriously and closed down because most papers he carried dealt with Shiites and Shiite issues.
And it appears that these were not idle threats. Two paper sellers were killed in the last two months in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood, a Sunni area. Another three lost their lives in Dora, a district south of the capital that used to be mixed but is rapidly becoming purely Sunni.
Paper sellers say that no one dares to sell newspapers in these areas since they fell under the control of Sunni militants.
And it is not just paper sellers and their customers who have been caught up in this latest form of sectarian violence sweeping the Iraqi capital. Cafés with televisions have been threatened with bombing unless they stop showing Shiite stations. Several bookshops have also been burned down or targeted by bombers. The attacks come against a backdrop of a seemingly vibrant media environment in Iraq.
After the regime's fall, the media scene flourished.
In summer 2003 dozens of new titles appeared, and after decades of censorship Iraqis were at last able to enjoy diverse viewpoints.
In the last year, however, the Iraqi media has developed a strong tendency toward sectarianism. Many papers, radio, and television stations are now closely affiliated with political or ethnic groups, which often provide them with funds.
Sadiq Abdel Hussein, 35, a schoolteacher from the working class Shiite district Sadr City, points out that it is not just Sunni militants who are trying to stifle press freedom. He says that members of the Mehdi Army, a militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, are also intimidating paper sellers - and bookshops - in areas that they control.
"The militias try to restrict the shops to selling only religious books and force the paper sellers to circulate leaflets from the Mehdi Army," he said. "The Mehdi Army also banned all papers issued by American troops."
In another development, the Mehdi militia is also said to have forbidden the public showing of music channels Rotana or Melody, Arabic versions of MTV that are popular among young Iraqis. "Anyone who shows these channels publicly might be whipped or tortured by militia members," said Hussein.
Saif Muhsin, a 33-year-old government employee, who lives in the Adhamiya neighborhood, is dismayed at the situation. "I never expected that the country would reach this low point of freedom where people get killed for reading or even carrying this or that paper," he said, adding, "If only the government and the security forces granted citizens as much freedom to read different opinions as militias have to roam the streets."
"But the government sits safely in the Green Zone and the militants rule the streets," he said.
Let's be clear in how to place the blame for this outrage: the Iraqis suffering from the followers of islam are not "victims" of "US occupation", they are victims of their religion's historically demonstrated propensity for inspiring violence.
We play a role in their suffering, however, if we have enabled these followers to practice their religion this faithfully, by defending their right to their violent faith.
"All cultures are of equal value, and therefore deserving of equal status", goes the mantra of multi-culturalism. Then how to justify the protection of a culture that is in itself ruthlessly intolerant of paralell cultures?
If one culture considers it permissable to condemn citizens to death for a "crime" as innocuous as reading a newspaper... how can a multi-cultural relativist ennoble this way of seeing the world?
The story is frightening in its revelation of how quickly things have deteriorated, and shows rather clearly that the more faithfully the religion of islam is practiced, the more of a menace to freedom it becomes.
How many lives must be lost before Iraqi newspaper vendors are not the only ones to get this news?